La Sapienza - Università di Roma

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The International Paris Air Show (June 19-25), which is one of the major events dedicated to the aerospace sector, attracted over 2200 international exhibitors and 285 official delegations from around the world.

Sapienza University together with six other European universities (CNAM Paris, EPFL Lousanne, KTH Stuttgart, University of Montpellier, UPM Madrid and the VKI - Von Karman Institute in Brussels) and the CEOs of seven major European companies (Airbus Defence & Space, Airbus Safran Launchers SAS, Avio SpA, OHB, RUAG Space, Leonardo-Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space) undersigned a memorandum of understanding to develop a new programme for aerospace engineers to educate and select the best young talents in this sector.

The aerospace industry has repeatedly highlighted the need to attract more brilliant young minds that can adapt to new industrial processes. Indeed, the development of European aerospace activities is increasingly characterized by the progress of digital technology and a growing need for cooperation amongst member states. Similarly, the future of the sector will be increasingly represented by young engineers of the digital age with a profound theoretical preparation, the ability to propose innovative ideas and to operate in international cooperation.

In order to create such a figure, the new project will abandon traditional approaches based on stages and internships, in favour of a system of calls based on productive requirements for selected engineers from participating universities for participating enterprises through reference professors. The aim of this new proposal is to reinforce the innovative skills produced through the collaboration of young talented teams in an international context, rather than pursue top-down educational careers controlled by senior engineers with an old school view of the production process.

The agreement covers a four-year period to allow adequate experimentation of the annual calls by participating enterprises and initiate the production of new components, tools and innovative production processes. At the end of each period, students will receive a “Distinguished Certificate of Excellence.”

The initiative, which has been called ASTRI - Advanced Student Team Research in Space Industry, will be characterised by an industrial project phase involving one or more companies and groups of 5 students from at least three countries. Each programme will last 18 months. The first six months may be used to work on the Masters thesis, followed by 12 months’ work in one of the participating enterprises.